2011 through the eyes of a blog

And just like that, another year is gone! Here is a look at my posts for the year. thinking web picThe blogging year started in March with my favourite book arriving, "Behind Bars", which I preordered in 2010. It is definitely the most used book on my shelf! I then talked about two approaching projects:

In April I introduced my new work, "blimp", and reviewed two projects - a song I helped a friend create and my work at the BOP music school:

May was a busy month, so in June I talked about what I had been up to - writing 31 microscores and the premiere of "blimp":

In July I posted the video I worked on with Sideways Productions:

In August and September I covered my involvement in the KBB Music Festival and some composition tutorials that I held in Kerikeri:

October was the kick off of the Rugby World Cup here in New Zealand, I talked about my involvement in the opening ceremony and also made a post about what exactly I do when "preparing music" and why you would need someone like me to do it:

December means Christmas and I posted some Christmas carols that I prepared for my students. I also composed a new "holiday" piece for my Christmas post:

Happy New Year everyone, bring on 2012!

Happy Holidays

christmas-background-c1It is that time of year again - the crazy season! I hope it has been a wonderful year for you. A big thank you to everyone I have worked with this year and to those who have supported my music in some way. 2012 is shaping up to be a very exciting year with some amazing projects in the pipeline, so stay tuned!

A reminder that you can download the 17 Christmas carols I collated and edited for violin and viola through this post here. Enjoy.

Also, be sure to check out my piece below, "A holiday thought" - some thoughts I put to music for this holiday season:

As always, keep in touch over the break at either facebook.com/ryanyouens or twitter.com/ryanyouens.

Merry Christmas.

Christmas carols for violin and viola

christmas-ornament-03Christmas is getting close and no doubt you are in the mood to play some Christmas music or your students are asking for some! Recently I collated and edited 17 Christmas carols for my students to play through this season. The carols, in order, are:

  • Angels we have heard on high
  • Joy to the world!
  • O little town of Bethlehem
  • We wish you a merry Christmas
  • It came upon the midnight clear
  • O come, O come Emmanuel
  • O come, all ye faithful
  • Jingle Bells
  • O Holy Night
  • Away in a manger
  • God rest you merry, gentlemen
  • Silent Night
  • While shepherds watched
  • Hark! the herald angels sing
  • Once in Royal David's City
  • We three kings
  • The First Nowell

There is a version for violin and one for viola and can be read without trouble by younger students as well as providing a lot of enjoyment for more advanced players. They are set clearly on each page along with dynamics and bowing where required.

You are welcome to download either copy (PDF document) and enjoy playing or passing on to a student or friend.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas.

Music preparation - what and why!

I often talk to people who are surprised at the types of music preparation jobs that can be done, so I thought I'd dedicate a post to talking about my work as a copyist and what I can do for you!

Why do people need someone else to prepare their music? Can't you just do it yourself? What do you pay for?

  • Expertise. Those experienced in music preparation have the eye to prepare beautifully clear and accurate music, and the ability to spot and resolve potential issues prior to it being rehearsed or performed. They also have extensive knowledge of theory and notation, the styles and conventions of different genres and specific requirements of different orchestras.
  • Meeting a deadline. Music preparers often get the music incredibly late (or be working on the start as the composer finishes the end!) and a deadline has to be met. Just recently I worked through the night to prepare the score and parts for a piece and a couple of hours later it was being rehearsed in Paris.
  • Efficiency. With extensive software knowledge, work can be done considerably faster and without hassles.
  • Assurance. You can pay many thousands of dollars to have musicians sitting there ready to record your music, or you could have worked hard for many years to have an orchestra perform it in a concert. Whatever context, when the players sit down or the conductor studies his score you need the assurance that everything is clear, accurate and very simply - it must work!
  • Ability. Many composers still write by hand and then pass it on to be prepared. Likewise, many composers and musicians don't know how to write notated music, and will pass on MIDI files from other software to be notated.
  • Independence. To publish your music, traditionally you would have had to pass your music over to a publisher to have it expertly typeset and prepared. But you would have had all of the commitments of having a publisher and would only get a fraction of sales. Now, with composers having their own websites, people are publishing themselves and just need their music expertly typeset, edited and proofread - that's where we come in.

What sort of things can be done?

  • Typeset music from handwritten manuscripts (or scribbles!).
  • Edit and/or proofread music that is already set.
  • Prepare instrumental parts - sometimes just as PDFs and emailed, other times I can provide the library service where I will print/copy and organise/distribute the parts at rehearsals/recording sessions.
  • Singers often need their pieces in a different key - I can transpose these with a very quick turnaround.
  • Tidy and typeset music from programs such as Logic or Pro Tools, adding all of the dynamics, articulation and other technical considerations.
  • Recreate a missing orchestral score from the instrumental parts - can be a lifesaver!
  • Transcribe music from audio.
  • Create reductions of larger scores - such as a rehearsal piano part for an opera.

How did I get in to this?

When I was studying composition with Anthony Ritchie at Otago University, he asked me if I would be interested in setting a set of Christmas carols composed by his father John Ritchie. I loved it, and gradually discovered that this area could in fact be a career in itself.

Kicking off the Rugby World Cup 2011

The biggest sporting event to ever hit New Zealand is this year's Rugby World Cup. It has been a massive success and we eagerly await the final tonight between New Zealand and France. The opening night was an amazing showcase of New Zealand and I was super proud to be involved.

Victoria Kelly was the musical director for the opening ceremony and invited me to do the copying work for all of the new music. She was writing in Logic and sent the sessions to me (via Gobbler, I LOVE Gobbler) to bring through to Sibelius where I prepared the scores and parts - tidying notation, adding articulation, dynamics and everything needed to make beautifully clear music. In three days I made:

  • 39 scores
  • 116 instrumental parts
  • 525 copies of those parts ready for the players and conductor
Here is everything on my floor, proofread and re-proofread, sorted and re-sorted, and ready to be packed up.

RWC typesetting August 2011 4

I then went to the recording sessions at York Street Studios and made sure there were parts on the stands for the beginning of each session with the Auckland Philharmonia.

What a joy!!

Composition tutorials in Kerikeri

I had the pleasure of going up to Kerikeri High School on the 22nd to 23rd of August to work with my good old mate (also the Head of Music) on some professional development and with the students - providing some composition tutorials. DAY ONE This was a teachers' only day and the perfect opportunity to talk through the music equipment and classroom setup - focusing on how new technologies can be implemented in the department. We also spent some time working with Sibelius and seeing how effective it can be in education... one of my favorite things!

Kerikeri visit - photo 2

DAY TWO Heralded the return of the students! I gave two one-hour talks on composition and another session where I went through many of the students' compositions with them.

Kerikeri visit - photo 5

The focus of these talks was "back to basics" - how do you go about starting a composition and developing your ideas during it. We had fun looking at many different variation techniques and how they are used in different pieces of music. Most of the examples were from the 31 microscores I wrote during May this year.

It was a fantastic few days. Please contact me if you would like me to come to your school!

KBB Music Festival stretching its legs

This year the KBB Music Festival stretched its legs and was held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral and St Mary's Church in Parnell. It was one again an absolute hit, even considering it had to move for two days due to the state funeral for Sir Paul Reeves! I was on the committee this year, so it was great to spend some more time at the festival and help to organise it beforehand. Being the new venue there were a lot of extra things to think about and teething issues but the many thousands of students who came through during the week had a wonderful time and some outstanding music was made.

Part of my role on the committee was to create and maintain the festival website - of course something I know well and enjoy. Check it out!

I had five groups in the festival this year (sorry, no photos this year!), the Diocesan School Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, the Carmel College Orchestra and Chamber Orchestras and the Kristin School Symphonia. They all did very well and I look forward to another good year at the festival next year.

48 hours to say "Goodbye Gilbert"

On the 21st and 22nd of May was the 2011 48 Hours Film Festival. This year I was on board with Sideways Productions and masterminds Allan George and Ben Fowler. They approached me to work with them last year, but I couldn't due to other commitments, so it was great to finally get things rolling with them. The genre we got was revenge movie, and Allan and Ben put together a good script. I packed up some gear and followed them around their two main locations, fine-tuning initial draft ideas as the structure and feel of the film came to life.

48 Hour Film Festival

I was reasonably happy with the result, loved the feel of the music, but not so much the final edit of it in the film. Have a listen to a few of the tracks below:

Or check out the movie here:

Although initially gutted not to get through, the team were then awarded the "Sexiest Images & Sound" award for Auckland and therefore nominated for that award at the nationals. Well done guys.

The team was Director: Ben Fowler Producer: Allan George, Ben Fowler Writer: Allan George, Ben Fowler Actors: Andy Nicholson, Yulie Great, Gwendoline Taylor Editor: Ben Fowler, Manuel Castelltort Sound / Music: Ryan Youens Cinematography: Allan George

"blimp" lands in Auckland

My new work for orchestra, "blimp", finally landed in Auckland on the 1st of May - premiered by the Auckland Symphony Orchestra at the Auckland Town Hall. It is a short work commissioned by the orchestra and their conductor Peter Thomas. It received a second performance on the 8th of May at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna. This was followed by its inclusion in their "Proms" concerts on the 18th and 19th of June. A great first month and a half for a new work! 20110501 blimp premiere 12

"Blimp [noun] a small, non-rigid airship or dirigible, especially one used chiefly for observation."

The idea I tried to portray is that for me I think of blimps as being slightly odd, awkward to get off the ground and driven by men who are a little loopy; but, once in the air, they jauntily go about their purpose.

20110501 blimp premiere 5

I was extremely happy with the performance, the orchestra did a wonderful job and loved playing it. It was also great to get such positive feedback from the audience after all four concerts.

Watch the live performance from 8th May here:

Or listen to a good audio recording here:

20110501 blimp premiere 1

May Microscores - a ginormous month of tiny things

During this year's New Zealand Music Month I wrote 31 musical microscores, and far out, what a month it was! I decided back in this post that I would do the project - each microscore would be from 30 to 60 seconds and I would do them in a maximum of one hour each day. I was initially unsure how it would shape up musically - would they all be completely different, how would they relate to each other - but once underway it was clear that small sets of microscores was going to be the way to go.

Another thing I was unaware of was the difficulty of taking one hour out of an already extremely busy working day, especially for 31 in a row. I made it though, with a few catchup days here and there.

It was interesting to see the voice that came out through the compositions and how they relate to each other even when they are for very different instruments and based on a very different idea. Some I wrote for instruments I know well, others I wrote for instruments I have not worked with much.

Below are most of the microscores - have a listen. The rest are still on their way due to technical disasters.

Below is the full list of microscores:

FOR PIANO, a response to my piece for orchestra, “blimp”, which was premiered on May 1 at the Auckland Town Hall by the Auckland Symphony Orchestra.

  • May 1: “the pilot” Yes, it is about the pilot of the blimp.
  • May 2: “the view” Yes, it is about the view from the blimp.
  • May 3: “the flock” Yes, it is about the flock of birds that hit the blimp.

FOR VIOLIN - Alexey Kurkdjian, a set about memories from Brazil.

  • May 4: “Carrão” About a metro station in São Paulo where we spent a lot of time.
  • May 5: “Liberdade” About a district in São Paulo - the largest Japanese community outside of Japan.
  • May 6: “Rocinha” About a favella we visited in Rio de Janeiro.
  • May 7: “Pão de Açúcar” About the famous Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro.
  • May 8: “Terra Brasilis” About our hostel in Rio de Janeiro.

FOR PERCUSSION, a set about living in Auckland.

  • May 9: “a moment last week” for drum kit with bongos.
  • May 10: “a moment out west” for marimba.
  • May 11: “a moment of rain” for xylophone.
  • May 12: “a moment of colour” for xylophone.
  • May 13: “a moment of grit” for drum kit with bongos.
  • May 14: “a moment of quiet” for xylophone.
  • May 15: “a moment to share” for triangle and crotales.
  • May 16: “a moment imminent” for marimba and crotales.

FOR TROMBONE - Peter J. Russell, a set based on the fact that some frogs can be frozen solid, then thaw out and continue living.

  • May 17: “he freezes”
  • May 18: “he thaws”
  • May 19: “he lives”

FOR FRENCH HORN - David Kay, a set of three based on the three sleep stages referred to as non-rapid eye movement (NREM).

  • May 20: “NREM sleep: N1″ This is the light sleep stage where it is common to experience restlessness and hypnic jerks.
  • May 21: “NREM sleep: N2″ This is the medium sleep stage where the sleeper can be easily awakened.
  • May 22: “NREM sleep: N3″ This is the deep sleep stage where night terrors and sleepwalking can occur.

FOR CLARINET - Yvette Audain, the original name for butterflies was flutterby.

  • May 23: “flutterby I”
  • May 24: “flutterby II”
  • May 25: “flutterby III”
  • May 26: “flutterby IV”
  • May 27: “flutterby V”

FOR TRUMPET - Brendan Agnew, a set of three about a flea circus.

  • May 28: “flea circus: opening night”
  • May 29: “flea circus: race day”
  • May 30: “flea circus: the escape”

FOR PIANO, the development of my favourite idea from all microscores written in May. And I also happened to sit on a rather large swiss ball to write all 31 microscores.

  • May 31: “sitting on a ball”

Great company, excellent food ... and some music

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of conducting at the Bay of Plenty Music School, held for the second year in Tauranga. Check out my previous post if you'd like some more info about the music school. It was a really fantastic weekend. The wind orchestra players (my group) were really keen to do some hard work, loved the selection of music, were really positive and after the 13 hours of rehearsal arose to present a really tight and energetic performance on the Sunday afternoon.

20110415-17 BOP Music School 182

20110415-17 BOP Music School 223

20110415-17 BOP Music School 242

20110415-17 BOP Music School 295

20110415-17 BOP Music School 211

So, where is it next year? Rotorua! Interested in going? Stay tuned in to their website and I'll see you there.

A recipe for Soul Food

A friend of mine, Anna Donald, has a project for 2011 - she is a young mum and to keep living an exciting life, she is trying something new each week and blogging about it here: Mi Cosa Nueva. On Facebook she asked for ideas and I suggested she write some words to a song and I would set it to music. Within the hour Anna had written the lyrics, she continues:

"I flicked it on to Ryan, and he replied immediately, saying he’d ‘whip it up’. A couple of days later I was stunned to hear that he had not only written the music, he’d also recorded the backing track with piano, guitar, drums and bass. He suggested that I come over and learn it and record it with him. By this stage I was so excited that I nearly wet my pants."

Anna came over and recorded the singing while Wendy, my wife, got clucky looking after her baby, Rosalie, upstairs.

20110323 soul food recording 2

I then produced everything and I'll let Anna continue:

"Ryan turned up to my husband’s 30th a few days later with the complete package of CD, chords and sheet music, all professionally bound with some photos of me recording the song. My husband, for whom the song is written, is quite smitten with the song and has been humming it around the house ever since. (‘Da da da da soul food…’)"

Have a listen:

Soul Food by ryanyouens

I had heaps of fun, Anna loved it, what better way to spend a few hours!! Read her full post here.